To be a healthy and sexually active human being, in this day and age, can be extremely difficult.
We are constantly bombarded with sexual rhetoric and sexualized messages. They are in our magazines, on our televisions, in our favourite songs, and linked with a huge amount of the products which we buy. You only have to switch on MTV to see a dozen popular artists grinding and thrusting in music videos which would not be out of place on most porn channels.
At the same time products and services are constantly pushed in front of our faces in order to “enhance” our sexuality, as if simply being normal was somehow lacking. A good example of this is grossly apparent in the male enhancement industry for men. Due to the societal pressure for ones “manhood” to be of a certain size, there is a huge market out there for such products playing off peoples insecurities. Common products in this industry are typically advertised for the purposes of penis enlargement, such as this penimaster pro review we found. This website pertains to a penis extender where the owner goes into details on how he used the device to grow past his “god given measurements”.
Yet, at the same time, society demonizes sexuality. It picks and chooses which kinds of sexual expression to sanction and which to chastise. Society encourages public displays of sexuality, but only within a narrow set of bounds.
Navigating the Strange World of Acceptable Sex
If this strange and unavoidable social conflict causes a lot of confusion for heterosexual individuals, you can only imagine how bewildering it must be for gay communities. Yet, again, homosexual communities are still considered to be separate from social norms, so this is a social contract which does not necessarily apply to them.
Whilst the continued liberation of sexual expression is undoubtedly a positive thing, which will allow both heterosexual and homosexual people to live full and unhindered sexual lives, the push and pull nature of our relationship with sex has become damaging. If the message is that we should be having sex, but only in a specific way, and the guidelines governing these social restriction and limitations are constantly changing, is it any wonder that people are more anxious than ever about seeking advice on safe sex?
Becoming a Willing Participant
To combat the spread of HIV, there does not need to be a complete lack of judgement (negative or positive) – the problem often lies with attempts to change the fundamentally unchangeable – there needs to be a fundamental understanding that personal judgement and practical emotional, physical, and mental advice about sex have to be mutually exclusive.
As for the individual, whether homosexual or heterosexual, there must be a balance between healthy sexual expression and self-preservation. Whilst it is fine to consider a one night stand or a casual sex session as nothing more than that, there has to be a certain degree of respect for what sex can do, what it can turn into – whether it be an unwanted pregnancy or something much more serious like a sexually transmitted infection.
In spite of the preponderance of information concerning HIV available in the media, many people still think that only gay or sexually promiscuous young people can contract HIV.
This assumption tends to overlook the prevalence of HIV amongst adults 50 years of age or older. The belief that seniors don’t engage in sexual activity, or are only involved with long-term partners and therefore, are at a lower risk of contracting HIV is incorrect.
In 2007, 3000 Americans between the ages of 57 and 85 were asked about their sexuality by researchers at the University of Chicago. A significant percentage of those surveyed reported that they were still regularly sexually active:
- 73% of those 57-64
- 53% of those 65–74
- 26% of those 75-851
Many are involved with new or multiple partners whose sexual and health history they may not know.
With that many seniors still regularly having sex, it’s not surprising to learn that by 2009 in the USA, people aged 50 and older accounted for 17% of new HIV diagnoses. By 2011, people aged 55 or older accounted for 26% of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV in the US.2
Similarly, the Public Health Agency of Canada estimated that 18% of new HIV cases occurred amongst those aged 50 or older.3
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that by 2015, 50% of adults with HIV will be 50 years old or older.4
Older people have similar HIV risk factors as young people. They often are not well informed about HIV. Also, seniors are more likely to be diagnosed with HIV later in the course of their illness.
Late diagnosis usually occurs because doctors don’t always test seniors for HIV, and many of the elderly mistake HIV symptoms for those of normal aging.
Issues Specific to the Elderly
Seniors also face unique risk factors,
Menopausal women no longer concerned with getting pregnant are less likely to use a condom during sex.
The thinning and dryness of older women’s vaginal tissue may increase the risk for infection.
Seniors are less likely to discuss their sexual habits with their doctors, even though they visit their doctors more frequently.
Without early diagnosis, patients risk more damage to their immune system, which leads to shorter survival periods.
In its Comorbidity Research Agenda, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Infection and Immunity has listed HIV and Aging as a key concern. It is funding grants to identify the specific physical and psychosocial issues related to aging with HIV.
The good news is that seniors with HIV are living longer thanks to improved anti-HIV therapy, also known as ART or HAART. However, how these medications act and react with treatments older patients may be taking for other conditions still needs to be researched.
As the HIV-positive population grows, physicians who specialize in Infectious Diseases may have to adjust their treatments to include information about other conditions commonly found in the practice of Geriatrics to help their patients.
A few years ago, being diagnosed with HIV was similar to being sentenced to death. Times have changed and now people with this virus can live normal happy lives just like everyone else. In fact, an HIV-positive individual can have the same lifespan as someone without the condition. All this is possible, thanks to the following guidelines.
Manage Your Stress Levels
Depression and anxiety are known to trouble many people with HIV, and they can be very harmful. These conditions together with stress compromise your immune system and thus make you even sicker. This calls for HIV patients to have a plan that they turn to whenever their moods sour. Given that you are already working with a compromised immune system, anxiety can result in a lack of motivation and even lead to slacking on your meds. Therefore, know your stressors so that you can eliminate them before they get to you.
Sometimes when things go wrong, it is possible to get carried away. This is why having a positive attitude comes in. When living with HIV, staying positive is everything. It will help you through tough situations. Note that negativity makes life difficult and comes with many other health complications such as stroke, heart diseases and even physical injuries. Women who live positively even carry healthier pregnancies.
Take Care of Your Gut Health
The lymphoid system is full of T-cells but since HIV affects these cells, you are bound to have gastrointestinal problems from to time. Luckily, you can avoid these issues by nurturing your gut. A healthy GI system facilitates the absorption of the antiretroviral medication. Therefore, consider eating high fiber foods and probiotics for improved absorption and health of your lymphoid system.
Being HIV positive does not make you weak. In fact, it should motivate you to exercise even more. Exercises help with weight management while also fighting cardiovascular diseases. They also make you look fantastic. Aim to have about 30 minutes of exercise every day for your wellbeing. These do not have to be strenuous in nature. Consider walking, dancing and swimming as some of the best options available.
Smoking is bad for people without HIV and worse for those with the virus. Unfortunately, an estimated 60% of HIV patients smoke. If you want to live longer, do away with the puffs since they lead to mitochondrial infections. When these energy-producing organs are down, your body will not just be frail but also be susceptible to lung cancer and heart diseases that shorten your lifespan.
Get Your Vitamins In
It is advisable that you take general multivitamins to supplement your diet. These vitamins boost your immunity and also suppress the levels of the virus. Other supplements such as selenium are equally important. You should also get enough Vitamin D, calcium and iron. Before incorporating these supplements into your diet, talk to your doctor since some can have adverse reactions with your meds.
Living a healthy and comfortable life despite your HIV status is more than just possible. These and many other tips can help you learn to live with the virus and enjoy your life.